Goodies and baddies

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
April 16, 2012, 1:58 PM GMT+0

How do films portray 'goodies' or 'baddies'? We ask Britons about physical characteristics in films

People with marks, burns or disfigurements on their faces, and people with bad teeth, are most likely from our list to play only or mainly 'bad' characters in films, our poll of British adults for Changing Faces has found.

In contrast, people with physical disabilities (such as being in a wheelchair); old people; people with blonde hair; lesbian, gay or bisexual people; and women, are perceived as usually playing 'good' characters in films, the results show.

Notwithstanding, the most popular option overall among British people was that characters tend to be portrayed as 'good' or 'evil' in equal measure.

'Evil' characters

  • 66% said that people with bad teeth are 'usually' found playing 'evil characters' in films (compared to 19% who say they play 'good' and 'evil' equally, and 1% who think they usually play 'good' characters)
  • 48% said that people with marks/scars or disfigurements are 'usually playing evil characters', (versus 35% who said that they play 'good and evil characters equally', and 5% saying they usually play 'good' characters)
  • Bald people (30%) and people with moustaches (29%) were the only other people in our list to score a relatively high 'evil character' percentage
  • Although people with English accents (15% , fat people (14%) and ethnic minorities (13%) were also seen as slightly more likely than others to be playing slightly 'evil' characters (such as baby Stewie, from US show Family Guy, pictured right, who has an English accent despite being from an American family)

'Good' characters

  • 38% felt that people with physical disabilities, such as missing limbs or being in a wheelchair, are usually portrayed as 'good' characters (compared to 43% who said 'good and evil equally', and 6% who said 'usually evil')
  • 30% felt 'old people' are usually portrayed as 'good characters', while 29% said the same for people with blonde hair
  • 21% said that gay, lesbian and bisexual people usually play 'good characters', while 20% said the same about women

However, despite the public sometimes leaning slightly one way or another on a given type of person, for all except 'people with bad teeth' (seen as 'bad characters'), the most popular response in the poll was that people play 'good and evil characters equally', despite the characteristics listed.

See the survey details and full results here